May 15, 2013
HATTIESBURG, Miss. - The Southern Miss baseball team has won five Conference USA series this spring.
The Golden Eagles need to capture one more series this weekend at Houston to clinch outright their third C-USA regular-season title. They also captured the crown in both 2003 and 2011.
With a record of 27-23 overall and 14-7 in league play, Southern Miss holds a 1 ½ game lead on Memphis, a 2 game lead on Rice, UCF and East Carolina and Houston is 3 games back in the standings. With two victories over the Cougars, the Golden Eagles will win the title outright.
The series begins at Cougar Field, Thursday, at 6:30 p.m. The set continues with a 6:30 p.m., tilt on Friday, before completing the three-game series Saturday at 1 p.m. All three games can be heard on the Southern Miss IMG Sports Network.
In what has been a hotly contested series between the Cougars (33-19, 11-10) and Golden Eagles over the years, the two teams have met 56 times with Southern Miss holding a 29-27 advantage, which includes the Eagles taking three of four from UH last season.
The Golden Eagles have shuffled their rotation for the final weekend series. Senior right-handed pitcher Andrew Pierce (Stringer, Miss.) gets the call in the opener on Thursday. Pierce, a finalist for the Ferris Trophy, has posted a 9-1 record this spring to go along with a 2.37 earned run average, 84 strikeouts and just 18 walks in 95 innings. He will be featured against Cougar righthander Daniel Poncedeleon (6-4, 4.58 ERA).
In Friday's tilt, junior righty Conor Fisk (Brown Deer, Wis.) is set to take the mound as he has compiled a 4-2 record with a 2.61 ERA, to go along with 50 strikeouts and just 20 walks over 62 innings. He will face right-handed hurler Austin Pruitt (8-5, 2.86 ERA) for UH.
Sophomore southpaw Jake Drehoff (Alpharetta, Ga./3-5, 3.88 ERA), fresh off a two-hit performance over five innings against SIUE, toes the rubber in the final regular-season contest for Southern Miss. UH (33-19, 11-10) is undecided at this time of their starting pitcher for this game.
In its 10-3 victory over No. 14 Ole Miss on Tuesday, Southern Miss collected a season-best 16 hits for a non-conference tilt. It gave the Golden Eagles their third double-digit hit contest in a row and fifth in the last six games.
Senior Isaac Rodriguez (Weston, Fla.) continues to pace the Golden Eagle attack with a current season team-best, 16-game hitting streak to have his average rise to .350 on the year.
Sophomore Austin Roussel (Hester, La.), on the strength of a 4-for-4 performance against Ole Miss - he is now 9-for-9 against the Rebels lifetime - holds the team's best average at .356.
Fellow sophomore Mason Robbins (Leakesville, Miss.) has driven in at least one run in 10 of the last 11 games, seeing his average at .326, while senior Dillon Day (Geismar, La.) is hitting at .307.
Following the UH series, the Golden Eagles will stay in Houston and return to action in the 2013 Conference USA Championship at Reckling Park on the campus of Rice.